Kruger, McKenzie face tough openers at Wiphold international

tennis13 March 2023 14:22
Erin Mckenzie © Frennie Shivambu

The WIPHOLD International draw has served up a mixed bag for South Africa's two players, Isabella Kruger, and Erin Mckenzie, both of whom were drawn against top two seeds in the main draw of the women's ITF $60 000 World Tennis Tour tournament, which begins on Tuesday in Tshwane.

Four South African juniors were awarded main draw wild cards and will compete alongside the country's top-ranked women's player, Kruger.

Suzanie Pretorius, the reigning Growthpoint Junior Masters champion, has been granted a wild card, as has Mari-Louise van Zyl, South Africa's No 2 under-18 junior ranked player, Erin McKenzie, third in the country's under-18 junior rankings, and Claire Jaramba, another promising South African player.

The South Africans will have to be at their best, with all five players needing to punch above their weight against a line-up that includes 12 players ranked among the top 300 in the world (in a field of 32).

Unseeded Kruger will go up against the second-seeded Frenchwoman Chloe Paquet in what has been billed as a showpiece first-round clash.

Kruger, who is currently ranked 353 in the world, is South Africa's best hope in the tournament. Kruger, 17, has never met the 28-year-old world No 172 player before.

McKenzie, a wild card entrant, will also have a tougher time of it in round one as she has been drawn against the top seed Romanian-born Raluca Georgiana ?erban.

McKenzie will face a difficult test while gaining valuable experience against the world No 164 on Tuesday.

The other three South African players received favourable draws, with 18-year-old Claire Jaramba facing Italian qualifier Dalila Spiteri, 18-year-old Suzanie Pretorius facing Belgian qualifier Clara Vlasselaer, and 16-year-old Marilouise van Zyl facing Frenchwoman Alice Tubello, ranked 366.

The W60 category tournament is the largest women’s event held in Africa and offers a prize purse of $60 000 (R1 million).

The event is the most significant ITF competition held in South Africa since the $100 000+H Soweto in 2011, and it represents another watershed moment for tennis in the country.

The main draw matches in singles and doubles begins on Tuesday.


1. Raluca Georgiana Serban (CYP)

2. Chloe Paquet (FRA)

3. Harmony Tan (FRA)

4. Sachia Vickery (USA)

5. Ipek Oz (TUR)

6. Anastasia Zakharova (RUS)

7. Valentini Grammatikopoulou (GRE)

8. Mai Hontama (JPN)